Ralph Wagner 1929 - 2019: Influence of a Legend Carries On Forever - Mountain News : News

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Ralph Wagner 1929 - 2019: Influence of a Legend Carries On Forever

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Posted: Thursday, August 22, 2019 9:00 am

The Lake Arrowhead community lost one of its greatest citizens when Ralph Wagner passed away in his sleep on Aug. 15. He served on the Lake Arrowhead Steering Committee that was formed in 1974 to purchase the lake from Boise Cascade and maintained leadership roles consistently throughout the rest of his life.

The current Arrowhead Lake Association (ALA) president, Gary Clifford, released the following statement in tribute to Wagner:


It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of Ralph Wagner. Ralph is entwined in the fabric of the Lake Arrowhead area and his presence will be missed.

He has touched us all in a way that will never be forgotten. Please take a moment and reflect on his smiling face and offer condolences to his family and friends.

Godspeed Brother Wagner!

After the 1975 acquisition of Lake Arrowhead, Wagner was elected the first president of the Arrowhead Lake Association. He served as president twice, and remained an active board member who served on numerous committees, including operations and maintenance, with high standards that contributed to Lake Arrowhead’s outstanding reputation.

In 1975, Wagner and the ALA played a key role in establishing County Service Area 70D-1, which promoted a successful bond election for construction of the Papoose Lake dam.

Wagner’s leadership successfully established the Lake Arrowhead Community Services District (LACSD) when the Arrowhead Utility Company was purchased from Boise Cascade. He served as a member of its board, and LACSD took over the functions of the Lake Arrowhead Sanitation District. Lake Arrowhead then became responsible for both water and sewage.

Due to his hard work with ALA and LACSD, the Lake Arrowhead Chamber of Commerce selected Wagner as Citizen of the Year in 1977.

Wagner’s civic roles meshed well with his own career as a specialist in water, sewage and structural engineering.

During 35 years of practicing civil engineering, he designed more than 100 water and sewage treatment plants. Among his projects was creating all of the utility design for Disney World in Florida, which Wagner once described as “a lifetime opportunity.”

Much of Wagner’s success can be attributed to his “sense of discipline and organization,” which he said he acquired when he attended military high school. Soon thereafter, the U.S. Navy put him through Stanford University where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering.

In return, he served in the navy for three years during the Korean War. He then went on to earn his master’s degree from the University of Southern California.

Additional accomplishments resulted from Wagner’s service as the chairperson of Zone 5 of the Flood Control Advisory Commission. In that capacity, Wagner and his colleagues were responsible for flood control, erosion control, firebreaks and the bark beetle program. He also considered his role in taking over responsibility for Lake Arrowhead Marina Operation as a part of ALA to be another of his most unique opportunities.

Other contributions to the community included the Giardia Hotline Committee; serving as a former member of the Lake Arrowhead Municipal Advisory Council; formerly acting as president of the Mountains Community Hospital Foundation; and contributing “Water Watch” and other lake-related articles to the Mountain News.

In June 2018, the ALA office building was renamed to honor Ralph Wagner as a result of his leadership for ALA, LACSD and the community overall. A ribbon cutting ceremony was held on June 16, 2018, and the official name now is the Ralph Wagner Building.

On its website, ALA stated, “Ralph is a visionary leader and one of the founders of the Arrowhead Lake Association. With Ralph’s professional training in engineering, experience and aptitude in the field of water resources, he has been instrumental in moving projects forward and helping the organization become what it is today.”

Wagner was born in 1929 in Los Angeles. He was married to Ianita Boyer Wagner for 39 years and they made their home in Point Hamiltair where he served as the president of the Property Homeowners Association. Their children are Suzanne, Linda, Peggy, Shelley and Richard.

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